How to create Sustainable Process Improvement
Critical success factors
What to do:
- Eliminate as many as possible steps, actions, interfaces, complexity etc. Anything that adds no value: get rid of it, so it can’t be in the way and does not need any attention!
- Make sure that all the relevant steps, activities, data etc. are logically arranged: available in the right moment and place. Every action that needs to be performed should be making complete sense to the one that needs to take it. Step into the position of the ‘operator’ and check whether the right thing to do really makes sense from his or hers perspective. (The right thing seems to be a natural thing to do).
- Make sure all the ‘workplaces’ (what or where ever that may be) are absolutely ‘spick and span’ ; clean, well-organized,
- Make sure players in the process have sufficient overview on what is going on, make it ‘visible’ at a glance what should be done, how and when. Use visual techniques where ever possible.
- If something goes wrong: Do not focus on the person! Focus on the question: Why did it make sense for this person to do the wrong thing (if he would have had a choice, he would have done the right thing wouldn’t he?) So whenever things go wrong: adapt the system, to make it more ‘logical’ to do the right things!
How to do this:
- Design the process together with all key players that have to perform in the process; only in this way you will get all crucial information and understanding from the team members to implement the new process
- Be very VERY critical when discussing what is value adding and what not (thus what should be enhanced and what should be eliminated). Typically most of the non-value adding activities are considered to be ‘necessary’… and thus they remain annoyingly present…
- Adding people, space, investments, complexity is NEVER a solution. Simplification does.
- Use the power of ‘human intelligent decision making’; allow decision making within the operation, based on clear decision criteria, based on reliable data.
- Use the power of human pattern recognition: the less cluttered the process, the easier it is to detect anomalies in the field. Allow people to respond to such in a way that makes sense.
- Always check: What would be the normal situation at this point in the process? What could be different, and what would make sense to the ‘operator’ to do in such circumstance?
- Allow ‘operators’ to be responsible for the correct outcome of the process by providing solid designed processes and conditions to fulfill the tasks within them.
- Do not focus on individual players, however focus on the whole system.
- It is the management that is responsible for providing a system where players can perform
- Only the players in the system can provide the inside knowledge about what they need to perform